While much of Oakland’s success can be attributed to its strong pitching staff, the other half of the battery is helping out with his bat.
Coming off another impressive night at the plate, catcher Kurt Suzuki(notes) looks to help the Athletics continue their home dominance of the Cleveland Indians on Saturday in the middle game of this weekend series.
After finishing with losing records each of the past three seasons, Oakland (11-7) has a pleasant surprise early in 2010. Off to their best start since going 12-6 in 1992, the A’s are closing in on their 12th victory - a mark they didn’t reach last season until their 30th game.
Duchscherer and two relievers combined on a five hitter in Friday’s series-opening 10-0 win, as Oakland improved to 7-1 at home against the Indians since 2008.
Suzuki has batted .414 with three home runs, seven RBIs and 10 runs in those matchups. He homered and singled twice in Friday’s opener, and is 6 for 14 with three home runs and seven RBIs in his last four games overall.
“I know I’m not a guy that’s going to go out there and just mash homers all over the place,” said Suzuki, who hit a career-high 15 home runs in 2009. “I’m more of a contact kind of guy and hit the gaps and occasionally run into one like I did (Friday).”
Suzuki’s batterymate Saturday will be Anderson, who must try to put a forgettable outing behind him.
Anderson (1-1, 2.65 ERA) agreed to a $12.5 million, four-year contract with the A’s last Friday after throwing 12 shutout innings over his first two outings, but he didn’t look much like a player deserving of a contract extension Sunday against major league-worst Baltimore. The left-hander shut out the Orioles through the first two frames to run his scoreless streak to 14 innings, but gave up six runs over the next three and was removed after the fifth in an 8-3 loss.
An 11-game winner as a rookie in 2009, Anderson may well fare better against a struggling Indians team. In his only start against Cleveland, Anderson allowed four hits and struck out a career-high 10 in six shutout innings of a 2-1 home win Sept. 18.
The Indians (7-9) counter with Fausto Carmona(notes) (2-0, 3.60), who has given up three runs or fewer in each of his first three starts of what’s shaping up as a strong comeback season. The right-hander went 5-12 with a 6.32 ERA last season and didn’t notch his third victory until his 17th start.
Carmona allowed three runs and six hits in six innings of a 7-4 home victory over Chicago on Sunday. After issuing 10 walks in his first two starts, Carmona displayed better command, walking two while throwing first-pitch strikes to 19 of 25 batters.
Carmona is 1-3 with a 10.69 ERA in his last four starts against the A’s. He endured one of the worst outings of his career against them last season, getting tagged for nine runs and 10 hits in 5 2-3 innings of an 11-4 loss Sept. 20.
The Indians had another tough day at the plate Friday, hitting into five double plays.
Cleveland, which has the second-fewest runs in the AL with 54, has lost three of four, combining for one run in those three defeats.
“We’ve been struggling offensively, so whether we’re being shut out or we lost 3-1, it’s still a loss,” manager Manny Acta said.